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First World War

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Introduction

First World War Coursework The First World War began in August 1914 with Germany against the Allies of Britain, France, Russia and Belgium. When war began the Germans put the Schlieffen Plan into operation. The idea was knock France out first by sending troops through Belgium and then send troops to the Russian front. However, neither the Belgians nor the Russians did what the Germans expected. This led to the war becoming static for 3 years. Many thought the First World War would be a 'war of movement' and over by Christmas. Instead enthusiastic troops were stuck in trenches in a stalemate, which was to effectively last 3 years. Only in 1918 was there a considerable change in warfare and a breakthrough made. The Western Front ground to a halt at the end of 1914. Mainly due to the Schlieffen Plan. Whilst the Plan was successful at first however, unexpected Belgian resistance and the British Expeditionary Force drove Von Moltke to move his troops off course and instead of surrounding Paris they were coming in from the east. Impetus slowed as Germans advanced into Paris with food and ammunition shortages. Russia mobilised much more quickly than the Germans expected so Moltke sent 100,000 troops to the Eastern Front. France had a chance to counter-attack. ...read more.

Middle

They tried no imaginative ways to overcome problems and thinking their troops only capable of simple tasks when many were more intelligent. The Allies did not co-operate, each wanting to make the breakthrough themselves. Better results may have been achieved if co-operation came earlier than in 1918. From the beginning of the stalemate to the end there were many changes to warfare to try and break the stalemate. However some tactics used were never changed and never worked. There was always trench warfare throughout the war causing it to be static. In April 1915 the Germans used poisonous chlorine gas for the first time. Poisonous gas was effective as it opened a 9km gap in the Allied lines, but was unreliable because gas could change direction depending on the wind direction and many soldiers had gas masks to avoid suffocation. This was a change of warfare but not decisive enough to win the war and so it was still stalemate. As the war was a stalemate on the Western Front, the Allies attacked at Gallipoli to find a resolution to the stalemate. However this was not successful. The 'War of Attrition' began in 1916 with the Battles of Verdun and the Somme. Attrition was a new idea of winning the war by wearing out the enemy until they had no resources left and would have to end the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Lundendorff sent in too many men too fast, with the army exhausted and no reserves. The Germans rapid advance had made a salient rather than breaking the line. The Allies finally had co-operation, with Commander Foch in charge leading an efficient counter-attack on 8th August 1918, Lundendorff calling it "The Black Day". The British used tanks successfully as they were more reliable and led infantry through barbed wire, advancing 8 miles in 1 day driving the Germans back. By September the whole line was moving, because of new tactics similar to the Germans. They attacked with rapid blows, not a big punch. German morale was low after they didn't get what the generals had promised them and they saw British had better supplies when they were starved. On 11th November, Germans signed an armistice ending the war. 1918 was more like 1939-1940 than 1914. The changes, resulting from new tactics and new technology in weaponry, in 1918 broke the stalemate and finally ended the war. 1918 was a different kind of warfare because of new tactics used by both sides to overwhelm the enemy, with the Allies gaining the advantage in the end. In 1926, General Foch was right in saying, "The military mind always imagines that the next war will be on the same lines as the last. That has never been the case, and never will be." ...read more.

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